Mary Beth Writes

Written 1-30-14 when I was still working at the jail.

Have you seen the sun rise lately?  The sky has been dawning, many of these days, as if someone is pulling rosy pink taffeta ball gowns up out of the long, cold nights.  That shimmering, wild, splendidly intense rose comes up into the world. For a few moments, the snow is pink; the trees are warm with color. I saw a seagull flying that was pink on one side, white on the other.  It is magnificent.

A while later I drive the car out to work; the sky is still gasping with an afterglow of pink ribbons. The lake is now that color of rich, dusky teal blue that makes my toes curl. Of course, that deep blue hue is edged and laced with a zillion shades of glittering snow, bobbling chunks and clumps of glinting ice, and silver gulls.

On the way to work I have to make my first hard decision of the day. Am I going to turn east at Goold so that I can drive right along Lake Michigan several more blocks, before turning back to Main to finish the trip to work?  Or am I just going to stay on Main Street, which saves me turning four corners?

If I turn in, now I have to put up with all the aforesaid gorgeous colors AND the rich camel of the wide, winter-wet beach.  Once I saw a coyote doggedly padding north along the shoreline; I had to stop and watch, it was better than the Uffizi (art museum) in Florence – and I have BEEN to the Uffizi and I have seen da Vinci’s up close and personal. As his reputation says, da Vinci is nothing to sneeze at.  But a lone coyote on a wide winter beach in the early morning? Sloshing teal and frozen tan, shimmering rose and snowy white behind him?  Hoo-boy, I had to pull up my socks back up that morning.

And then I get to work. You’d think I would be safe from beauty inside a jail, right?

Not always. Imagine sitting at a utility table in a beige-painted cement block room. There are four or five inmates, in their orange cotton uniforms, sitting in beige plastic chairs.

You know what happens?

They talk, they listen, we work on stuff… and sometimes the overhead fluorescent lights turn them into Renaissance art. Their faces glow in the amazing tones of all human skin. Their eyes; dark, light, some red-rimmed because they are tired. Their hair is clean or dirty, very minimal hair products. All that is in the room are men or women in their natural, flawed, real, present, humanness. 

I say nothing because it would be way too awkward, but I see it and my heart races. You couldn’t put this on a bucket list, and yet here it is, inside a jail; human beauty in its natural, warm, breathing, animal handsomeness.

So here’s the thing that stymies me ab out myself and about all of us.

There is so much beauty in the world. It’s everywhere.

Where we expect it – dawn.

Where we don’t – jail.

It’s in the white plastic bag swirling and lofting across a city street.

It’s in the sky when a flock of starlings do somersaults for no reason we can comprehend.

It’s in the face of the neighbor who doesn’t know she’s standing in the light of the setting sun.

It’s in the way things fall off the table when the cat pushes them, and now there is jewelry, a pen, two pieces of paper, and your mittens scattered on the wood floor in an arrangement you couldn’t have dreamed.

How do we ever get bored? How do we ever say, “This town is so stupid” or, “My house is dumb” or “That is such an ugly person”?

I dare me and I dare you, this coming cold, tough week, to open your eyes and see what’s beautiful.

Tags

Add new comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Ricky

8/7/2022

My step-grandmother Ricky ate an apple every night. She’d sit on her bed, lean against the headboard, then chomp the apple after which she would remove her false teeth and lay down to sleep.

I haven’t really thought about Ricky in years but this week for no identifiable reason (because we were talking about unsung aspects of our lives?) I dreamed about her. I awoke one morning seeing her face as she stood in her dining room chatting with my mom and me. Ergo, I started thinking about her.

What's Ordinary in Your World?

This train photo is not cribbed from anywhere. It's a Genuine Leonardo. 

8/1/2022

Hello and how are you? I am writing less and less as Len and I meander around to doctors, specialists, dentists, and that way-too-early appointment at the endodontist. (So far, we are fine.) The irony being that most of what we are attending to are the side effects of medications prescribed for stuff that didn’t hurt and we didn’t even know we had.

A Quiet Week

The cat in the picture is my daughter's cat, Nancy. Sometimes we all just need a quiet place to slow down and think.

7/23/2022

What's going right in your world?

7/11/2022

My teeth again. Argh. This past week I’ve had a jaw ache/toothache that got worse instead of better. Today my dentist said I need a crown but also that’s not the thing that is causing the swelling and infection and ache. I now have an Rx for an antibiotic and an appointment for that crown and an appointment with an endodontist to get an Xray worthy of NASA.

Memory & Consequences

7/7/2022

To remember hard stories truthfully requires bravery.

WHITE CAKE!

The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...

...

6/30/2022

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent anniversary antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Eclipse EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer firealarm Fitness Five Flexible flu Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls gorgons GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation granola groceries Guatemala gum guns happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope hurricane impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha Nancy Drew New Mexico New York City Nomadland Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples poetry Preaching privacy Protest Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage Rosemary Ruether Roses Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraRodriguez sculpture Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spring square feet staining stele Stereotypes StoryStarts stress Survival swim taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards Three Things ThreeThings TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam VivianWokeUpDrowning vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Willa WillaCather Wisteria
Ad Promotion